Trifocal camera readied for live 3D

Arri, the Fraunhofer Institute and Walt Disney Studios have just begun a second phase of tests in Berlin on a trifocal camera system that comprises a single Arri M camera sandwiched between two micro HD cameras developed by Fraunhofer, alongside a computer processor.
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The days of stereo 3D mirror rigs could be numbered if new technology being devised by Arri, the Fraunhofer Institute and Walt Disney Studios comes to fruition. The trio of companies have just begun a second phase of tests in Berlin on a trifocal camera system that comprises a single Arri M camera sandwiched between two micro HD cameras developed by Fraunhofer, alongside a computer processor. The dual witness cameras capture enough information on set to be combined into depth maps by Fraunhofer's STAN Stereoscopic Analyzer software (which features in the DVS Clipster post tool), for the post production of live action content in 3D. The concept would negate the need for cumbersome 3D camera rigs, allow an on-set 3D workflow similar to 2D, and in theory help produce 3D content without the glitches inherent in lens misalignment. Disparity-estimation techniques based on the three captured images should allow a second-eye view to be rendered at a virtual interaxial distance that is defined in post. “If successful we will go into a third test in April this year and if that is successful it will be used on a major film production,” revealed Kathleen Schroeter, executive manager 3D Innovation Centre, Berlin Fraunhofer Institute. She said this was currently planned to be a 20-minute short film or a 20-minute sequence within a longer feature, both produced by Disney. “The current trifocal system is for post production, but the next step is to render the data in real time so that we can produce live broadcast programming without rigs,” she added. Curiously the initiative has come from Disney in Hollywood, rather than Disney's own research institute in Zurich, which is also exploring ways of creating 3D content using plenoptic lenses and computational cinematography. Adrian Pennington www.arri.dewww.fraunhofer.dewww.waltdisneystudios.com

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